All four NFC East Teams will face off in Week 3 of the NFL season. The Philadelphia Eagles visit the Washington Commanders on Sunday while the Dallas Cowboys take a trip to the Big Apple and face New York Giants. Despite being considered one of the weaker divisions before the season began, all NFC East teams currently have a .500 record. It could stay that way depending on the results this weekend.
NFC East Breakdown: Previews and Breakdown
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Commanders
Perhaps the most exciting for the NFC East this year, as Carson Wentz will host the Quarterback who replaced him in 2020. The Eagles may be 2-0, but divisional matchups are not always so cut and dry.
The Philadelphia Eagles look to be the most complete team in the division right now. Their improved pass game soared them over the Lions and Vikings, and their offensive line continues to be one of the best in the NFL. Darius Slay caught two interceptions, including a game-sealing pick late in the fourth quarter on MNF. The defense shut down Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook, forcing Kirk Cousins to throw for one of the worst games in his career. The Eagles defense deflected 11 passes and sacked Cousins twice, forcing a fumble in the middle of the fourth quarter.
Jalen Hurts silenced his critics on Monday Night with a phenomenal performance (26-31, 333 yards, three total touchdowns). He showed tenacity and strength, especially on that 26-yard run for a touchdown before halftime. Had Kenneth Gainwell caught a pass that he should have, then former Eagles LB Jordan Hicks wouldn’t have caught an interception Hurts. Overall, the signal-caller played a great game and deserves a lot of credit for this win.
Head Coach Nick Sirianni did a better job of spreading the ball around. Devonta Smith and Quez Watkins were a lot more involved in the offense, catching a combined 149 yards and a touchdown. In week 1, neither receiver caught the ball (Watkins was never targeted). With star TE Dallas Goedert and solid running from Miles Sanders, this Eagles offense shouldn’t be taken lightly. The birds hope to bring the same level of talent against former teammate Carson Wentz.
On paper, Wentz is having a statistically good season (7 TD, 3 INT, 65% of passes completed), but his stats against Detroit came in garbage time play. He also threw two interceptions to the Jaguars, who took those opportunities to take a 22-14 lead in the season opener. Wentz plays well but also digs holes for himself that hold his whole team back. His confidence issues cloud his judgment.
Wentz and the Commanders started off the season a little shaky after barely beating the Jaguars. That got worse after a 36-27 trouncing by the Lions.
But the issue isn’t just Wentz. The Commanders played well in week 1 by preventing the Jaguars from increasing their lead. In week 2, the Commanders defense was completely different. They allowed 191 rushing yards on 24 attempts, and let Jared Goff throw for over 250 yards and 4 touchdowns. The former 2016 no.1 overall pick outdueled the former no. 2 overall pick from the same year. It was the exact opposite in 2017 when Wentz outdueled Goff in their week 14 matchup.
One could say the absence of DE Chase Young affects the team, but Young had a disappointing season in 2021 before suffering a season-ending injury. The defense isn’t the NFL’s worst (nor is it the worst in the NFC East), but it lacks star-studded playmakers that can propel them further.
A glaring issue with Washington is its offensive line. They limited the Jaguars to one sack but allowed 5 against the Lions. They’ve also been unable to open the field for RB Antonio Gibson, who struggled during the week 2 loss. G Trai Turner is a shadow of his former self, and Commanders lost pro-bowl G Brandon Scherff to the Jaguars in free agency. Unlike the Eagles, who have both talent and depth at the line, the Commanders would be in panic mode if just one of their starters misses playing time.
Washington fans can at least take comfort in the fact that their receiving corps is building up nicely. Terry McLaurin is averaging 22 yards a catch this year, and rookie WR Jahan Dotson was involved in both games this season. Curtis Samuel is also putting up solid numbers as Wentz is spreading the ball around pretty well. McLaurin is the oldest in this trio at 27 years old, which means the Commanders could have a good wide receiver group for years to come.
Predicted Winner: Eagles
In my game-by-game prediction for the Philadelphia Eagles for LWOS, I wrote the Eagles would win this game, and that prediction still hasn’t changed. The Eagles will continue the hot start to their season as the Commanders keep it close but lose in the end.
Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants
Quite the QB matchup here on Monday Night. The undrafted Cooper Rush vs. first-round bust Daniel Jones. Nothing but the best for NFL fans. Jokes aside, both teams won their week 2 games, with the Giants going 2-0 for the first time since 2016.
The defense deserves a lot of credit for preventing this team from being winless. They held both of their opponents to less than 20 points two weeks in a row, forcing six sacks against the Bengals (8 total this season). Joe Mixon was held to just 57 yards on 19 carries after Leonard Fournette ran all over them in week 1. Trevon Diggs did well limiting Jamar Chase, leaving Tee Higgins as Burrow’s only viable WR option. If the defense continues to shut down key players on the opponent’s side, they can keep themselves afloat in the playoff race for when Dak returns.
LB Micah Parsons is responsible for half of the team’s sacks this season. He’s proven he’s a top defensive player in the NFC, if not the league. Out of all 53 players, the Giants need to worry about Parsons the most.
But the problem with the Cowboys lies with their offense. Even when Prescott was healthy, they looked awful. Ezekiel Eliott is slowing down, and Tony Pollard isn’t a workhorse back who can’t churn out numbers like Nick Chubb or Derrick Henry. The offensive line isn’t as dominant as it once was, and who knows how Cooper Rush will perform while Prescott remains injured?
For the first time since 2016, the New York Giants are 2-0. That also marked the last time they made the playoffs. Looking at their schedule this year, it’s not too hard to believe they can earn a low seed in the postseason by week 18.
But one thing needs to be addressed with this team. Daniel Jones. In fairness, the former 6th overall pick has had three head coaches in just four seasons. He’s also never had real WR talent. Hurts has A.J. Brown, Wentz has Terry McLaurin, but who does Jones have? Kenny Golladay’s done nothing special for the Giants. 2021 first-rounder Kadarious Toney is also struggling to make an impact for his team. That leaves Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, who are both fine at their job, but they aren’t top-quality talent. At the very least, Saquon Barkley seems to be back and healthy. He wasn’t his usual self against the Panthers but did what he needed to do to help his team secure a 19-16 victory.
But have no fear, Giants fans, because the defense is doing its job this year. We know the excuses. Tannehill doesn’t have an elite WR anymore, and Baker Mayfield is… well… still Baker Mayfield. But at the end of the day, this defense is keeping opponents to just 20 points and under. They forced two fumbles against the Panthers on their first two drives, allowing the offense to put up 6 points. It’ll be exciting to see OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux as the first-round pick makes his first career start against the Cowboys.
Predicted Winner: Cowboys
Despite offensive injuries, the Cowboys defense has enough talent to keep things to a minimum in the Big Apple. What matters is stopping Saquon Barkley. Preventing him from getting big gains will limit the Giants to just Daniel Jones. If that’s the case, then it’s possible for Cooper Rush to go 2-0 as a starter this season. This win can help put them over the edge in terms of the NFC East playoff picture.